Lower output again from lignite-fired stations, less competitive

Major changes are taking place in the wholesale electricity market with lignite-fired production falling further along with the system marginal price (SMP), while natural gas-fueled power stations have become increasingly competitive.

According to data provide by IPTO, the power grid operator, lignite-fired production last month fell further to 1,016 GWh, from 1,167 GWh, reducing its representation to 24 percent of total electricity production, including imports, down from a level of 30 percent in February.

Based on these figures, imported electricity, which amounted to 1,062 GWh in March, stands as the biggest provider to Greece’s electricity system, meaning that the problems created by last summer’s capital controls have been overcome and transboundary electricity trade has returned stronger than in the past.

Lignite-fired electricity production has also fallen on an annual basis. Production in March, compared to the equivalent month last year, fell by 31.9 percent, while electricity production at natural gas-fuled stations more than doubled, rising by 104.7 percent.

Lignite-fired power stations have lost their competitive advantage. Lignite-fired power stations determined the SMP – in other words, offered the system’s highest price – for 273 hours in March, compared to 292 hours by natural gas-fueled power stations. Therefore, lignite-fired power stations determined the SMP for 36.74 percent of the time, while natural gas-fueled power stations did so for 39.3 percent of the time.

The SMP averaged 40.782 euros per MWh in March, peaking at 55.006 euros per MWh on March 2. As for the lowest level, the SMP struck zero for three hours during the month, on March 23, 28 and 29, at 1am on each of these dates.

Even older, less efficient natural gas-fueled power stations, such as a facility in Komotini, northeastern Greece, can produce at lower rates than lignite-fired stations, according to LAGIE, the electricity market operator.